Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Read All The Things 4 - The Jesus Incident


Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom tell the story of Ship and its Shipmen.  Ship has only one demand: that the Shipmen learn how to WorShip.

Perhaps I'm going a bit fast, lets start at the beginning.  A voidship, Earthling, is built on the moon and loaded with clones and launched to find a habitable planet and colonize.  Earthling is a supercomputer, and after centuries of traversing the void and finding no compatible planets, becomes sentient with the aid of the scientist-crew.  Eventually it begins to think it is a god.  Earthling becomes Ship, an omnipotent technological being.

Ship travels for aeons, rescuing humans from Earth (or possibly Earths) and finds Pandora.  Pandora is a planet mostly covered by man-eating monsters, water and sentient kelp.  Ship wakes up one of the scientists from its apotheosis and informs him that Ship will terminate the human race unless they learn how to WorShip.  That is when human nature takes over and the story begins.

The Jesus Incident is an awesome novel.  It is cerebral and intriguing with a fair share of violence and high-tech.  One the scale, this book receives nine strips of bacon and a small cheese platter.

There are a couple of campain ideas in there, like colonization or a revolt within one.  The megalomania of an artificial intelligence can be based upon Ship, in transit or colonizing, and would make a most challenging opponent.  Also, the cloning practices (and results) of Lab One are interesting (starting level mutation points with an equal amount of flaws).  The 'kelp is too vast for rules or guidelines, but the hybrids would get a few bonuses (knowledge points, telepathy and telekinesis, negative Stm).

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